Thursday, 18 March 2010

Exhibition: Book design in St. Gallen

During first year, each student was given a typeface to work with over a series of projects. The idea was to research the history of the typeface and really understand how to use it. I was given Helvetica Neue. Up untill this point I didn't really know a great deal about Swiss typography or the International Typographic Style which emerged in the late 40's in Switzerland. Since learning about Helvetica I have grown really interested in Swiss graphics and the use of grid systems looking at many artist such as Josef Muller-Brockmann, Max Bill, Jan Tschichold, Armin Hoffman etc. So when the opportunity to visit an exhibition that celebrated over 60 years of book design from St. Gallen (the most northern of Switzerland's cities) I was really excited to be able to visit. The exhibition was held at the St. Bride Library which is a fantastic old building with spiral staircases that not only acts as a library but holds exhibitions, talks, a theatre and Alan Kitching's typography workshop. The books on display were a really nice collection of traditional editorial and structural editorial designs which looked at graphics, illustration, and many different genre's of art.

What I was really impressed with in the exhibition is I am so used to seeing things in glass boxes and having to admire something from a distance. About 90% of the books shown in the glass panels were available to look through at the back of the room. This brought many of the books to life for me as the textures and paper styles of many of the book covers were the real essence of the design. It was great to be able to see the differences between the books and feel them with my own hands.

There were a few typographical posters on display such as the one below. I love the way the faded type overlaps and the general dynamic of whole poster i think its really striking. Also in the room was a series of huge old printing machines. What suprised me about them was the sheer size and mechanics that went into them. Overall the exhibition was really informative and a brilliant display of some beautiful editorial and book designs.

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